Never Forget

We give you thanks, O God, 

for in the beginning your Spirit moved over the waters

and by your Word you created the world,

calling forth life in which you took delight.

Through the waters of the flood you delivered Noah and his family,

and through the sea you led your people Israel from slavery into freedom.

At the river your Son was baptized by John

and anointed with the Holy Spirit.

By the baptism of Jesus’ death and resurrection

you set us free from the power of sin and death

and raise us up to live in you.

-Thanksgiving at the Font, ELW service of Holy Baptism

In all of our lives, there are defining moments. Those moments that forever change our lives, for good or for ill. They are often events of complete change: birth or death, loss or gain, beginning or ending. If you stopped reading right now, you could quickly make a list of unforgettable moments that have changed your life: the day you proposed, the day you lost your job, the day you got sober, the day you got your dog… 

Defining moments also happen to all of us together. There are shared events that shape our society. For example, this Saturday is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. We might disagree about exactly what 9/11 meant, but no one could argue that it hasn’t redefined America for the past two decades and still will for many years to come. We have other shared defining moments: the 2015 Supreme Court ruling for nationwide marriage equality, Hurricane Katrina, Sandy Hook and Columbine, the Challenger explosion, Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon, the JFK & MLK assassinations, Ruby Bridges’ first day of school at William Frantz Elementary, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the stock market crash of 1929—just to name a few. 

Several of those shared events happened before my birth, and maybe before yours, too. Even so, they have changed our lives. We remind each other about these moments, telling the stories and repeating the refrain: never forget.

As Christians, our faith is grounded both in personal defining moments in our own lives and in shared defining moments that happened long before any of us were born. That’s why, for instance, our baptismal liturgy calls us by name alongside a never-forget litany of defining moments from God’s story: creating the world with delight, saving the Israelites from slavery, and dying and rising in Jesus Christ. None of us has seen those moments, and yet they define our faith and our very lives. 

The more often we tell these stories of God’s defining moments, the more clearly we see how God’s actions have made a difference for us. Since God has always listened to the laments of God’s people, of course we can trust that God hears our cries. Since God has always set people free from sin and death, of course God will forgive us, too. Since God has always provided enough for God’s people, we can trust that God will give us what we need. We need these stories and the reminder to never forget what God has done for us.

How will you remember God’s defining moments? Who reminds you what God has done? To whom do you tell these unforgettable stories? Maybe it’s a Bible study, by yourself or with a group. Maybe it’s through worship each week. However you do it, never forget that you are defined, named, and claimed by the Triune God as a beloved and forgiven child of God.

Holy God, you have defined us as your people, holy and dearly loved. May we never forget your defining moments for us, filled with love and salvation. Amen.